Monthly Archives: April 2015

20/20 Hindsight ~ John 2:18-25

Thankful for the 20/20 vision I enjoy through these lenses!

Thankful for the 20/20 vision I enjoy through these lenses!

Clarity sometimes comes long after events have unfolded. In the heat of the moment, we’re in the moment and, thus, God’s purpose for the moment can be somewhat elusive to us at the time. Once we are removed from the situation and take the opportunity to look back and ponder it, we begin to understand the gravity of the events we witnessed. We may even feel a bit foolish for having missed the real meaning until later, stating that the clarity offered by hindsight makes the gravity of the moment obvious. “How did I miss that?” we ask. Such is the limitation of the human mind, limited in scope and bound by the passage of time.

Jesus had just cleared the vendors and money changers from the temple courts, and with that, potential temple revenue had been thrown out with them. The Jews in charge asked Him to show a sign proving that He had the authority to take such action. Jesus replied, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (2:19) Standing in the temple court and looking at the temple structure, it’s easy for me to understand why these men, and presumably Jesus’ disciples, took him literally, chiding Him that it took 46 years to build this structure; no way could Jesus destroy it and rebuild it in three days.

But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. (John 2:21-22)

Fast-forward a few years. Jesus had been crucified and resurrected from the dead. The victory had been won. I can almost picture His disciples sitting around a table reminiscing about all of the things Jesus said and did. And I can almost see the disciples collectively slap their foreheads as the Holy Spirit revealed the gravity of this moment to them. “He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (verse 21). “Aha!” They didn’t get it at the time, but it makes so much sense now! The Jews destroyed this Temple, and on the third day He made His point abundantly clear as He rose from the dead and appeared in triumph to His disciples and to many others. Sin and death were defeated once and for all. It was time to spread the word.

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

Friends, we weren’t there to witness the words and deeds of Jesus when He came to earth. But God has given us an amazing gift in His Holy Word. By reading and studying the Bible, we in essence are tapping into hindsight. We can sit in the comfort of our homes and in the pews of our churches and read the words inspired by God and recorded by the likes of Moses, David, Solomon, the prophets, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James – every section and every book of the Bible is about one Man. It is about God’s relationship with us and the redemptive gift He offers through His Son, Jesus Christ. Indeed, Scripture in its entirety points straight to our Savior! The more we read and the more we study, we too will slap our foreheads and yell, “Aha!” as the Holy Spirit works through God’s Word to bring us closer to Him.

I’ll share a secret. I’m glad people read my blog, and I am overjoyed when they glean some nugget of wisdom or inspiration from something I’ve written. But the real reason I write my blog is completely selfish: it is the tool by which I read, ponder, learn, and inwardly digest God’s Word. God’s Word is an amazing gift. When is the last time you picked it up?

Ponder this: Is any section of the Bible more relevant today than other sections of the Bible? Some would answer, “yes.” I answer with a resounding “No!” Read it. Read all of it. Read it in an attitude of prayer and longing. And be prepared to slap your forehead.

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son, and thank you for revealing Yourself through Scripture. Bless my study and grant me the wisdom to discern and understand Your eternal, unchanging, and universally true message to Your creation through Your Holy Word. Help me to take what I learn and become salt and light to this dark world. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Over/Under…At Church?? ~ John 2:13-17

IMG_1644About 25 years ago, I agreed to volunteer at a coworker’s church bazaar. I helped work the “over/under” booth, the most popular booth at the bazaar, I was told. Over/Under was a dice game in which patrons would guess whether the roll of two dice would be over, under, or equal to 7. They made their choice by placing $1 or $2 in one of three spots on the table: “over”, “under” or “seven”. Two dice were rolled. Players who selected “over” or “under” with a corresponding roll over or under 7 received their original money back plus an equal amount. If they selected “seven” with a seven rolled they received their money back plus a double amount. Money placed in the incorrect spot was donated to the church. It sure looked like gambling to me, but I was told the money placed on the table was not a bet; it was a “contribution”. As we worked the booth into the nighttime hours, patrons were three and four deep around the booth, drinking beer (as we were, too – it was free for volunteers), and pushing their way to the tables to offer their contributions.

Admittedly, I enjoyed working Over/Under. It was fast-paced and we got all the food and beer we wanted. But with all of that, I felt that something wasn’t quite right about this game at the church bazaar.

And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” (John 2:14-16)

According to my Bible’s study notes, the money changers and vendors selling doves and other livestock were there to serve foreigners that came on pilgrimage to offer sacrifices to God. They arrived with foreign currency that needed to be exchanged, and rather than haul sacrificial animals with them on their journey, these were offered for sale as a convenience. Apparently, human greed had taken over, and the money changers and other vendors were making a handsome profit by charging exorbitant prices for their goods and services. The purpose for visiting the temple was overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of the temple marketplace. God had been shoved into the background in favor of money and profits. Jesus, rightfully angered, literally turned their tables and ran them off.

I’m quite certain that Jesus would have had the same reaction had He visited that church bazaar. Aside from being on church property, I recall nothing at that bazaar that pointed to Christ. The Gospel was not shared. Worship was not discussed. This was not a community outreach; it was a church fundraiser. Many of the activities going on at the bazaar were activities that could happen at any club fundraiser. We looked just like the world. We were conducting business, nothing more. As I ponder this many years later, having matured somewhat in my faith, I feel bad for having participated and I have asked God to forgive me. Thank God for His mercy and grace!

The cross at First Baptist Church of Keller

The cross at First Baptist Church of Keller

Today, many churches are blurring the lines between things of the world and things of God. Many feel it is important that the church “fit in” to society to attract and retain members. Make people comfortable. Use décor that says anything but “church”. Offer a booming sound system and a gourmet coffee bar. Surrender to societal norms and values. Preach about prosperity and self worth with a big smile while never mentioning the eternal consequences of sin and the forgiveness offered only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m certain that Jesus would disagree. Interestingly, the other three Gospels record these words of Jesus as He drove the vendors from the temple, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it a robbers’ den.’” (Luke 19:46) We must all lift our church leaders in prayer as we work with them, not to blend with the world to suit our own fancies, but to be salt and light unto a world that so desperately needs to hear the Gospel.

Ponder this: What would Jesus think if He walked into my church? What would He see? What would He hear? Would He be pleased, or would He clear the place out?

My Prayer for Today: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for leading me to First Baptist Church of Keller. Be with all who preach and teach there, that Your Word would always be our focus. I lift up Your church around the country and around the world. Open our eyes and ears that we might see any points of diversion from Your Word and compel us to be faithful stewards of the Gospel. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

2015 Photo-Some-Days 4.18.2015

I am excited to sing “Brahms Requiem” with fellow members of the First Baptist Keller Chorale joining singers from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Howard Payne University, and Gambrell Street Baptist Church. To top it off, we are singing with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra! As we rehearsed last night, I was simultaneously humbled, somewhat intimidated, and very thrilled. The opportunity to sing with such talented musicians is a privilege, indeed. Brahms Requiem is a beautiful piece of music; come hear us on April 28 in the Truett Auditorium at the Seminary. I’ll be the guy in the tux. 😉

I will give thanks to the LORD for his righteousness. I will make music to praise the name of the LORD Most High. ~ Psalm 7:17 via crosswalk.com

Brahms Requiem rehearsal, 4.17.2015

Brahms Requiem rehearsal, 4.17.2015

2015 Photo-Some-Days 4.16.2015

According to yourdictionary.com, the poet author of “Piers Plowman” is credited with penning “Patience is a virtue.” I was reminded of that today during a telephone conversation with a coworker. Sales, especially in my line of work, is a process. In our conversation my coworker reminded me that it is important to be patient and allow the process to play out, because it will play out over time. It was just what I needed to hear, and I thank God for that conversation at that moment. God can use anybody to achieve His divine purpose. We must pray for His intervention and then tune in, for He may surprise you with His source.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”  ~ Arnold H. Glasgow via brainyquote.com

What does this have to do with patience? Sit, sometime, and watch a sunset. You'll understand.

What does this have to do with patience? Sit, sometime, and watch a sunset. You’ll understand.

2015 Photo-Some-Days 4.14.2015

My wife and I are big fans of The Voice on NBC. The talent that graces that stage is absolutely amazing, and we really enjoy watching each artist grow week by week as they heed the advice of their coaches. Voting gets tougher by the week also, but here are my votes based on last night’s performances. These are the 10 artists I would advance to next the next round if it were up to me.

“I think all music is a gift from God.” ~ Pharrell Williams via brianyquote.com

My votes for The Voice performances of 4.13.2015.

My votes for The Voice performances of 4.13.2015.

2015 Photo-Some-Days 4.13.2015

Building a sales pipeline is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done.  It requires diligence, perseverance, patience, research, preparation, and sometimes a thick skin. I find that I perform best in an initial meeting with a new prospect if I drive to the location of the meeting well ahead of time, then locate a local coffee shop in which to decompress and collect my thoughts. Thirty to forty five minutes sitting in a Starbucks may sound like time wasted to some; for me it is time well spent as I put the stress of metropolitan traffic behind me and focus on the task at hand.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell via BrainyQuote.com

Decompression and prep time before a new business meeting

Decompression and prep time before a new business meeting

Wedding Crisis Averted ~ John 2:1-11

It’s a wedding catastrophe, the prospect of which can give a bride and her mother prenuptial nightmares as they painstakenly plan each minute detail of the big day. Picture this in your mind: The vows have been repeated and the reception is well underway. The bride and groom have started to breathe as the stress of pre-wedding planning begins to fade into the past. The band is cranking out some great country music (remember, I’m from Texas), and the wedding guests have filled the dance floor. As the umpteenth guest compliments the bride’s parents on the lavishness of the day, and long before the reception is scheduled to conclude, the bartender sidles up next to the mother of the bride to quietly tell her that the supply of wine ordered for the reception has run dry. Can you visualize the look of horror that appears on her face as she processes that news? The bride, her parents, the bartender, and the venue manager look at each other, “how in the world did this happen? And what do we do now?”

As it turns out, Jesus and His disciples attended just such a wedding – sans the country music of course. As the celebration is well underway, Jesus’ mother, Mary, learns that the wedding host has run out of wine for the guests. She tells Jesus about the conundrum, clearly in a tone that only a mother can convey:

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “they have no wine.” (John 2:3)

Taken in context, this is more than just an “oh, by the way” comment. This is a statement that expects action on the part of Jesus; an expectant statement that only a mother can deliver. Jesus caught the gist, for He replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) Jesus, honoring the wishes of his mother, commands that the wait staff fill six stone jars with water. They do so, and at His command they draw out a sample for the wedding host who declares, most likely with a huge sigh of relief, that the choice wine is now being served.

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. (John 2:11)

There you have it. With this, Jesus’ first public miracle, His earthly ministry is launched and His journey to the cross begins.

As we read John’s Gospel, it is important to remember that John, himself, was one of Jesus’ disciples and an eyewitness to the events he recorded for us in his account of Jesus’ time on Earth. Doubters and conspiracy theorists may dismiss this event as some sort of smoke & mirrors trickery, but nothing surpasses the credibility of an eyewitness account; just ask any trial lawyer.

I believe. Do you?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to live on Earth as a man and die on the cross in my behalf. Thank you for calling His disciples and for inspiring John to record his eyewitness account of your Son’s earthly ministry. I pray that You would bless my study of John’s Gospel, strengthening my faith and maturing me into the witness you would call me to be. For His sake and in His name I pray. AMEN.

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